Seeds of Fire: A People’s Chronology
– August –
Recalling events that happened on this day in history. Memories of struggle, resistance and persistence.
Compiled by Ulli Diemer
August 1912 U.S. forces invade Nicaragua ‘to protect American interests.’ U.S. troops remain in Nicaragua until August, 1925.
August 1943 Inmates at the Treblinka extermination camp revolt. Many buildings are burnt to the ground, a number of German soldiers are killed, and 70 inmates escape to freedom, but 1,500 are killed. Gassing operations are interrupted for a month.
August 1973 The Canadian Gay Archives are founded by The Body Politic newspaper, with the newspaper’s back files forming the foundation of the archive.
Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives website
August 1, 1746 The Act of Proscription comes into effect in Britain. Aimed at crushing the culture of the recently conquered Scots, it makes it illegal to wear “Highland Dress” (tartans and kilts), or to play the bagpipes, and it takes away the right of Highlanders to “gather”. It is accompanied by the Disarming Act, which makes it illegal for Scots to own weapons unless they are in the service of the British.
August 1, 1834 Slavery becomes illegal in the British Empire.
Abolition of Slavery Timeline
Related Topics: Slavery
August 1, 1837 Birth of Mary Harris (Mother) Jones (1837-1930), American labour and community organizer and Socialist.
The Autobiography of Mother Jones
August 1, 1914 Start of The Great War (World War I). Europe’s imperialist powers set out to conquer each other. By the time the war ends, more than four years later, more than 16 million people will have died, and more than 20 million will have been wounded. Billed as “the war to end all wars”, World War I also sets in motion the conflicts that will result in World War II.
August 1, 1917 Frank Little, a union organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is lynched by masked vigilantes in Butte, Montana. The police make no effort to find his murderers.
August 1, 1932 J.S. Woodsworth becomes the first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF).
August 1, 1944 Start of the Warsaw Uprising: The Polish resistance starts a nation-wide uprising against the Nazi occupation forces, with Warsaw as the key centre of operations. The uprising is intended to last a few days until the Soviet Red Army reaches Warsaw, but the Red Army fails to move forward and the rebels are left on their own. The uprising continues for 63 days until it is finally crushed by the Nazis. An estimated 16,000 Polish resistance fighters are killed, and between 150,000 and 200,000 civilians are killed, most of them slaughtered by German reprisals. By the beginning of 1945, 85% of Warsaw has been destroyed.
August 1, 1975 Edward Abbey’s novel The Monkey Wrench Gang is published. It tells the story of a group of people who use sabotage to fight environmental destruction. The novel becomes the inspiration for “monkeywrenchers” who use sabotage and direct action to defend nature and ecosystems.
August 2, 1918 British forces invade the Soviet Union. They are the first elements of an Allied Intervention Force whose purpose is to “strangle at its birth” the newly formed revolutionary state, as Winston Churchill puts it. Fourteen countries send forces: Britain, the United States, Japan, Poland, France, Canada, Estonia, Serbia, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Italy, China, Greece, Australia. The intervention forces comprise a quarter of a million soldiers, but they fail to defeat the Bolsheviks, and most of them withdraw by 1920; though Japanese forces remain in parts of Siberia until 1922.
August 2, 1943 In a prisoner uprising in the Nazi death camp Treblinka, some 100 prisoners succeed in breaking out of the camp.
August 3, 1917 Green Corn Rebellion. At the end of the Green Corn Ceremony, Creeks, Seminoles, and a group of Central Oklahoma farmers spurred on by local socialists and the Working Class Union, organize to oppose the draft. Arming themselves, a few hundred rebels meet on the banks of the South Canadian River and prepare to march on Washington, D.C.
August 3, 1961 Canada’s New Democratic Party is founded, as a successor to Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). T.C. (Tommy) Douglas is chosen as the party’s first leader.
August 4, 1701 The signing of the Great Peace at Montreal. Forty aboriginal nations sign a peace treaty with New France.
August 4, 1792
Birth of Percy Bysshe Shelley, English romantic poet and political radical (1792-1822).
Shelley’s poem Masque of Anarchy, written after the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 (see August 16) calls for non-violent but determined resistance against governments that attempt to suppress freedom. Henry David Thoreau refers to its message in his essay Civil Disobedence, and Gandhi often quotes from it when he speaks at mass rallies during the campaign for Indian independence:
Edward Aveling and Eleanor Marx Aveling: Shelley’s Socialism
August 4, 1912 Birth of Raoul Wallenberg, Swedish humanitarian who worked to rescue Jews from the Holocaust.
August 4, 1914 Betraying everything that it had said it stood for, the German Social Democratic Party votes for war credits. On the same day the French and Belgian Socialist parties also issue decrees declaring support of their own governments in the war that broke out on August 1.
August 4, 1964 The ‘Gulf of Tonkin incident’, a fabricated ‘attack’ on a U.S. ship by supposed Vietnamese torpedo boats. The U.S. government uses the invented ‘incident’ to push a resolution through Congress allowing the President to intervene in any southeast Asian country he ‘believes’ is threatened by communism. Years later, it is revealed that the alleged attack never happened.
Related Topics: Vietnam War
August 5, 1895 The death of the revolutionary Friedrich Engels.
Connexions Author Index ‘E’
August 5, 1914 Rosa Luxemburg and a few other left-wing Marxists form Gruppe Internationale (International Group) to oppose the German Social Democratic Party’s betrayal of its stated principles in coming out in support for the Great War (World War I) that began on August 1.
August 5, 1919 30,000 Rumanian troops entered Budapest, Hungary, and begin a reign of terror in crushing the Hungarian soviet republic.
August 5-6, 1929 The Lupeni Strike: Miners in the Jiu Valley of Romania go on strike and take control of a power station. They are fired on by troops; at least 30 men die.
August 5, 1934
Birth of Wendell Berry, American farmer, writer, and environmental activist. Berry advocates a balanced and life-affirming society which values sustainable agriculture, meaningful work, communities, and connection to place. He sees industrial farming and the economics of greed as threats to our future.
August 6, 1883 Birth of Scott Nearing, American radical, advocate of simple living, and writer.
August 6, 1945 The United States drops an Atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
August 7, 1647 In the English civil war, the Parliamentary Army takes control of London.
Related Topics: English Revolution
August 7, 1960 Fidel Castro announces plans to nationalize all American holdings in Cuba. The US government and the Mafia, furious at losing their lucrative semi-colony, begin a non-stop campaign to assassinate Castro and to destroy the Cuban revolution.
August 8, 1879 Birth of Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919), Mexican revolutionary.
August 8, 1942 Mohandas Gandhi calls for immediate British withdrawal from India (the “Quit India” movement). In response, the British imprison more than 60,000 people.
August 8, 1944 The Port Chicago mutiny (strike). On July 17, 1944, an explosion due to unsafe working conditions at the Port Chicago Pier in California killed 320 sailors and civilian workers and injured 390 others. After the explosion, men are ordered back to work even though the unsafe conditions have not been dealt with, leading to a strike (legally a mutiny since the strikers are sailors).
August 9, 1854 Publication of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau.
August 9 - 16, 1909 The Fort William Grain Handlers Strike in Ontario Canada.
Related Topics: Strikes/Canadian
August 9, 1942 Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony (Symphony #7) premieres in Nazi-besieged Leningrad.
August 9, 1945 The United States drops an Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.
August 9, 1966 Two hundred people sit in at the New York offices of Dow Chemical Company to protest Dow’s manufacture of napalm.
August 10, 1680 Pueblos revolt against Spanish colonial oppression in what is now New Mexico.
Related Topics: Anti-Colonialism
August 10, 1755 British forces begin the expulsion of Acadians in the Bay of Fundy region. Between 1755 and 1763, more than 11,000 Acadian are expelled from what are now the Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. In the first wave of the expulsions, Acadians are deported to other British colonies. During the second wave, they are deported to England and France, from where many migrate to Louisiana. Thousands die during the expulsions, mainly from disease and drowning. Many of the surviving Acadians eventually make their way back to Acadia years later.
August 10, 1919 In the working-class district of Csepel, Budapest, Hungary, a thousand workers are massacred by machine-guns. The troops withdraw only after installing the fascist Horthy as head of state.
August 11, 1904 At Waterberg in Southwest Afrika (now Namibia) German forces start slaughtering Hereros who have rebelled against the German colonial occupation. An estimated 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama are killed in a four-year period. Survivors are put in concentration camps or made to do forced labour building railways and harbours. The events are regarded as the first genocide of the twentieth century.
August 11, 1931 Eight leaders of the Canadian Communist Party, including Tim Buck, are arrested for belonging to an “unlawful association.”
August 12, 1827 Death of William Blake, English poet, painter, printmaker, and visionary.
August 12, 1892 Start of Buffalo switchmen’s strike.
Related Topics: Strikes/U.S.
August 12, 1898 The United States annexes Hawaii, making it an American possession. The people of Hawaii are given no say in the matter. On the day of annexation most Hawaiians shutter themselves at home and mourn for the end of Hawaii’s independence.
August 12, 1946 African Mine Workers Union members go on strike in Witwatersrand, South Africa. Police attack the miners with extreme brutality: over the next week, at least nine miners are murdered by police and at least 1248 wounded.
August 12, 1999 A group of French farmers, members of the Confédération paysanne, a farmers’ union led by José Bové, dismantle a McDonald’s restaurant under construction in the town of Millau, as a protest against French agricultural policies. Bové is sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for his role in the protest.
August 13, 1842 Start of the 1842 General Strike in England (also known as the Plug Riots).
August 13, 1871 Birth of Karl Liebknecht (1871-1919), German Marxist and revolutionary.
August 14, 1889 Start of the London Dock Strike.
Related Topics: Strikes
August 14, 1980 More than 16,000 Polish workers seize control of the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk.
August 15, 1281 A massive typhoon known as the kamikaze destroys most of the Mongol fleet which has gathered to invade Japan.
August 15, 1886 Birth of Karl Korsch (1886-1961), Marxist philosopher and author.
August 15, 1890 Start of the Australian Maritime Strike, a massive confrontation in the Australian colonies. It causes political and social turmoil across all Australian colonies and in New Zealand, including the collapse of colonial governments in the colonies of Victoria and New South Wales. It is the first of four great strikes that rock Australasia in the 1890s, and though it ends in defeat for the workers, it demonstrates the growing social power of the labour movement.
Related Topics: Strikes
August 15, 1918 American intervention forces invade the Soviet Union; they are part of a 14-country military alliance whose goal is to crush the Russian Revolution.
August 16, 1819 The Peterloo Massacre, when troops attack a peaceful crowd demanding parliamentary reform. Fifteen are killed and hundreds injured.
Related Topics: Military Violence against Civilians
August 16, 2012 South African police attack striking miners near Johannesburg, killing 34 and injuring many others.
August 17, 1862 Several bands of eastern Sioux (Dakota) begin an armed uprising because of continuing treaty violations and land theft by U.S. government agents and white settlers.
Related Topics: Aboriginal History
August 18, 1823 Uprising of tens of thousands of slaves in the British colony of Demerara (in what is now Guyana). The rebellion is defeated, with more than 100 slaves killed and others executed afterwards. However, the events cause anger and revulsion in Britain and help push public sentiment for the abolition of slavery.
August 18, 1949 Finland: 1500 striking lumberjacks fight a pitched battle against police and troops.
August 18, 1962 Five people are arrested attempting to disrupt the launching of the Polaris submarine in Groton, Connecticut, USA.
August 18, 1991 Eight senior Soviet officials, opposed to the sweeping reforms of recent years, stage a coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. He is detained, and troops are sent to Moscow, Leningrad, and the Baltics. But the conspirators fail to arrest the President of the Russian Republic, Boris Yeltsin, who rallies the opposition and defeats the coup.
August 19, 1692 Five people, four men and a women, one of them the town’s former minister, are hanged in Salem, Massachusetts for witchcraft.
August 19, 1936 The Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca is murdered by Franco’s fascists.
August 19-25, 1936 Moscow Trial of sixteen Old Bolsheviks, including Gregory Zinoviev, former president of the Communist International. They are convicted on fake charges and immediately executed on Stalin’s orders.
August 19, 1953 In Iran, a coup sponsored and directed by the CIA overthrows liberal-leaning Premier Mohammed Mossadegh, who had nationalized the Iranian oil industry. The coup puts the pro-Western Shah Mohammed Pahlevi into power, who quickly gives control of the oil industry back to U.S. and British oil companies.
August 19, 1954 The United States outlaws the Communist Party.
August 19, 1957 Violence breaks out at the copper miners’ strike in Murdochville, Quebec when police are ordered by Premier Duplessis to suppress the strike. The government’s actions help to turn public opinion against the reactionary Union Nationale regime, laying the groundwork for the Quiet Revolution.
August 19, 1989 Hundreds of black demonstrators are whipped and sandblasted from helicopters as they attempt to picnic on a whites-only beach near Capetown, South Africa.
Related Topics: Apartheid
August 19, 1989 Germans, Hungarians and Austrians cross the Hungarian-Austrian border in a demonstration.
August 19, 1996 ACTU labour protesters with battering rams and sledgehammers attack the Australian Parliament, Canberra.
August 20, 1904 Colorado miners seize control of the town of Cripple Creek and force officials to leave town.
Related Topics: Strikes/U.S.
August 20, 1934 Birth of Fredy Perlman, writer and libertarian socialist.
Fredy Perlman: An Appreciation
August 20, 1940 An assassin sent by Stalin attacks exiled revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who is living in Mexico. Trotsky dies the next day from his wounds.
August 20, 1968 The Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies invade Czechoslovakia to put an end to the reforms of the ‘Prague Spring’.
August 20, 1998 US cruise missiles attack targets in Sudan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In Khartoum, the El Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries factory, which produces anti-malaria and veterinary drugs, is deliberately targeted and destroyed, resulting in severe drug shortages and subsequent deaths from disease.
August 21, 1831 Nat Turner’s Rebellion: the largest slave revolt in the United States.
Related Topics: Slave Revolts
August 21, 1940 Leon Trotsky dies of wounds inflicted by an assassin the previous day.
August 21, 1968 The Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies invade Czechoslovakia to put down Prague Spring reforms initiated by Alexander Dubeck’s Czechoslovak Communist Party.
August 22, 1791 Slaves of Saint Domingue (Haiti) rise in revolt, triggering the Haitian revolution.
August 22, 1915 Birth of David Dellinger, American radical pacifist.
Remembering Dave Dellinger
August 23, 1927 Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed in the United States. Sacco and Vanzetti were two anarchists who were charged in Massachusetts with murder on extremely dubious evidence and convicted after even more dubious trials. The case causes tremendous outrage and protest in the U.S. and internationally, but the execution takes place nonetheless.
Related Topics: Miscarriages of Justice
August 23, 1939 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression pact.
August 24, 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre: Massacres of Protestant Huguenots in France.
August 24, 1759 Birth of William Wilberforce, anti-slavery crusader.
Related Topics: Anti-Slavery
August 24, 1814 A British force burns the White House in Washington in retaliation for the burning of York (now Toronto) the previous year by American forces.
August 24, 1857 The failure of Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company sets the financial panic of 1857 in motion.
August 24, 1922 Birth of Howard Zinn, radical historian.
August 24, 1968 Police riot at Chicago Democratic Party convention. Chicago cops run amuck, beating demonstrators.
Related Topics: Police Violence
August 25, 1914 German invasion forces deliberately destroy the university library of Leuven, Belgium. More than 300,000 books are destroyed, including many which are irreplaceable. The next time Germany invades Belgium, in May 1940, German troops burn the rebuilt library and destroy 900,000 books.
August 25 - September 2, 1921 Coal miners in West Virginia battle police, armed strikebreakers, and the U.S. army in what comes to be known as the Battle of Blair Mountain. For five days, between 10,000 and 15,000 coal miners seeking union recognition fight against the government and the coal companies. More than 100 are killed, hundreds are injured. In the end, the miners lose the battle, but prevail in the longer term: by 1935, all miners in southern West Virginia win union recognition and better wages and working conditions.
August 26, 1789 The French Assembly publishes the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
Related Topics: French Revolution
August 27, 1305 William Wallace, the Scottish resistance leader, is brutually executed by the English government.
August 27, 1770 Birth of the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel.
Hegel by Hypertext
Related Topics: Hegel
August 28, 1830 Impoverished rural workers in southern and eastern England destroy threshing machines that are being used to take away their work and livelihoods. By the third week of October, over 100 threshing machines have been destroyed in East Kent in these “Swing Riots”.
August 28, 1844 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels meet at the Café de la Régence in Paris. Their friendship will last until Marx’s death in 1883 – and beyond. As their first joint project, they agree to work on The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism, which is completed in November 1844 and published in February 1845.
August 28 - 30, 1891 American forces intervene in Chile to ‘protect American interests.’
August 28, 1963 More than a quarter of a million people, most of them African-American, take part in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It is at this rally that Martin Luther King Jr. gives his “I Have a Dream” speech.
August 28, 1971 The first public gay demonstration in Canada assembles on Parliament Hill demanding law reforms and changes in public policy relating to homosexuals.
August 29, 1657 Death of John Lilburne, the English political radical who coined the term “freeborn rights” to signify his belief that human beings have rights that are inherently theirs, as opposed to being bestowed on them by government or law. Because of his radicalism, Lilburne was at various times arrested, flogged, confined to the pillory, imprisoned, and tried for treason.
August 29, 1786 An armed rebellion by poor farmers in Massachusetts breaks out. The revolt, known as Shays’ Rebellion, is a reaction to crushing debts which result in poor farmers being confined to prison while their property is seized by the state. The rebels see themselves as acting to preserve the goals and principles they had fought for in the American Revolution, which had ended three years earlier, in 1783. Shays’ rebellion, which lasts for several months, convinces the American elite of the necessity of a strong government with sufficient power to put down threats to the privileges and property of the wealthy.
Related Topics: Revolts
August 29, 1844 Birth of Edward Carpenter, an English socialist and advocate for homosexual rights. One of Carpenter’s best-know works is Civilisation, Its Cause and Cure, which argues that civilisation is a form of disease that human societies pass through. In 1908, he publishes The Intermediate Sex, which argues that same-sex attraction is natural for people of a ‘third sex’. His radicalism embraces socialism, women’s liberation, sexual freedom, vegetarianism, and labour rights. In 1892, he helps found the Independent Labour Party.
August 29, 1907 75 workers are killed when a bridge under construction near Quebec City collapses. 33 of the dead are Mohawks from Kahnawake.
August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina strikes Louisiana, devastating New Orleans and other coastal areas.
August 30, 1797 Birth of Mary Shelley (Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin). She is the daughter of two radical philosophers and writers, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Goodwin, and is herself best known for her novel Frankenstein.
August 30, 1958 Birth of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist, author, and human rights activist.
August 31, 1836 U.S. Marines invade Peru to ‘protect American interests’ after an attempted revolution breaks out.
August 31, 1942 A general strike breaks out in Luxembourg in resistance to the Nazi occupiers.
August 31, 1980 Poland’s Solidarnosc is recognized as an independent trade union.
Seeds of Fire is compiled for Connexions by Ulli Diemer. References used include the Connexions Library generally, and Connexipedia specifically, Wikipedia, Sources, the Peace History feature on Peacebuttons.info, the books and articles of Noam Chomsky and William Blum (marvellous antidotes to historical amnesia), and a wide, wide variety of other sources.
Donate or Volunteer
Selected Resources by